January 27, 2021

Joint Letter to President Biden on Unity

We, the undersigned, as religious, humanist, and civil rights leaders working together across lines of difference to promote the common good, call upon all Americans to come together under the new administration to meet the two crucial challenges of this moment: the spreading pandemic and the deep polarization among our people. Meeting these challenges calls for unity that, while not denying differences, enables us to find common ground from which to move forward. We take heart from our history of overcoming challenges faced by our nation: confronting slavery, the aftermath of the Civil War, the Great Depression, and the recent economic crisis.

We recall the words of two of our Presidents in these situations: Abraham Lincoln, proclaiming that “with malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds … to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves;” and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, reminding Americans that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” and that we all must “now realize, as we have never realized before, our interdependence on each other.”

As all Americans have been asked throughout our history to rise to our better angels, so President Joe Biden is calling on us today: “Now it is time to turn the page, to unite, to heal.” And as Vice-President Kamala Harris reminds us: “We The People have the power to build a better future.”

We pledge to follow their calls. In particular, we make three commitments:

  • To call upon the federal government to do all it can to support communities whose lives and livelihoods have been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, especially communities of color; and
  • To urge all Americans to meet the challenge of the pandemic by following the guidance of qualified medical professionals; and
  • To continue to engage across our differences, recognizing that many of the grievances that some Americans have about our country stem from deep-seated stereotypes they hold about different groups of our people as defined by race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion. We commit to reaching out to our neighbors who disagree with us, with love and civility, and to support government initiatives towards that end.

As we commit ourselves to fostering the unity needed to meet these challenges, we pray for our nation’s success in moving past them toward a brighter future for all the people of our great nation.

Signatories

  • Tabassum Haleem, CEO, Islamic Networks Group (ING)
  • Rabbi Hugh Seid-Valencia, Director of Collaborative Leadership and Jewish Engagement, Addison-Penzak JCC
  • Sabina Mohyuddin, Executive Director, American Muslim Advisory Council
  • Laura Talmus, Co-founder & Executive Director, Beyond Differences
  • Susan Douglass, Education Outreach Director, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University
  • David Williamson, Director, Central Florida Freethought Community
  • Atiya Aftab, Chair, Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University
  • David Williamson, Director, Central Florida Freethought Community
  • Christine Nadeau, Vestry Member, Christ the Lord Episcopal Church
  • Malka R. Kopell, Co-founder & CEO, Civity
  • Rev. Dr. Barbara Barkley, Pastor, Clayton Valley Presbyterian Church
  • Meraj Abdul-Qadir, Co-director, Colorado Muslim Speakers Bureau
  • Chai Levy, Rabbi, Congregation Netivot Shalom
  • Irshad Khan, Chairman, Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago
  • Mehlaqa Samdani, Director, Critical Connections
  • Deon Nielsen Price, Owner, Culver Crest Publications
  • Zehra Wamiq, Director, Delaware Valley Speakers Bureau
  • Wael Alzayat, CEO, Emgage Foundation Inc 
  • Rev. George C.L. Cummings., Regional Executive Director, Faith In Action Eastbay
  • Dilip Amin, Founder, Hindu Speakers Bureau
  • Dr. Dilara Sayeed, President, IL Muslim Civic Coalition
  • Fadia M.Abaza, President, INGMidwest
  • Servant BK Woodson, Sr., President, Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance
  • Rev. Dr. Chloe Breyer, Executive Director, The Interfaith Center of New York
  • James Coffin, Executive Director, Interfaith Council of Central Florida
  • Rev. Will McGarvey, Executive Director, Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County
  • Rabbi Pam Frydman, Consultant, Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County
  • Rev. Kenneth Chambers, Founder and Executive Director, Interfaith Council of Alameda County
  • Thomas P Bonacci, Executive Director, The Interfaith Peace Project
  • Mohammad Chaudhry, President, Islamic Center of East Bay, Antioch
  • Shakila T. Ahmad, President, Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati
  • Dr. Manal Fakhoury, Founder, Islamic Center of North Central Florida
  • Houcine Ait Ahmed, Outreach Director, Islamic Center of Santa Cruz
  • Dr. Soraya Orady, Director, Islamic Education and Resources Networks
  • Azra Hussain, Director Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona
  • Deborah Abu-Alrub, Director Islamic Speakers Bureau of Alabama
  • Syed Ali, Co-Director, Islamic Speakers Bureau of Dallas/Fort Worth
  • Hazem Yassin, Co-Director, Islamic Speakers Bureau of Dallas/Fort Worth
  • Zaynab Ansari, Director Islamic Speakers Bureau of Knoxville
  • Afshan Haque, Director, Islamic Speakers Bureau of New York
  • Tehseen Lazzouni, Director Islamic Speakers Bureau of San Diego
  • Afaf Turjoman, Director,  Islamic Speakers Bureau of Santa Barbara
  • Maysha Albarcha, Islamic Speakers Bureau of St. Louis
  • Kiran Faridi, Director, Islamic Speakers Bureau of West Virginia
  • Muhammad Ashraf, President, Islamic Society of Central Jersey 
  • Tyler Harris Gregory, Executive Director, Jewish Community Relations Council
  • Ven. Tenzin Chogkyi, Resident Monastic, Land of Medicine Buddha
  • Aneelah Afzali, Executive Director, MAPS-AMEN (American Muslim Empowerment Network)
  • Rev. Leslie Takahashi , Lead Minister, Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church
  • Rabbi Amy Eilberg, Member of Steering Committee, Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice 
  • Samia Hussein, President, Muslim Coalition of Connecticut
  • Salam Al-Marayati, President, Muslim Public Affairs Council
  • Sara Safder, Director, Muslim Women’s Organization of Orlando
  • Gurwin Singh Ahuja, Co-founder, National Sikh Campaign
  • Seham Abdala, Director, New Jersey Islamic Networks Group 
  • Fatih Ates, Director, Pacifica Institute Northern California
  • Lavey Derby, Rabbi, Peninsula JCC
  • Corey Helfand, Rabbi, Peninsula Sinai Congregation
  • Sheldon Lewis, Rabbi, Retired
  • Asif Haq, Director, SALAM Speakers Bureau
  • Michael Pappas, Executive Director, San Francisco Interfaith Council
  • Pastor Jethroe Moore II, President, San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP
  • Ziggy Rendler-Bregman, Chairperson, Sangha Shantivanam
  • Catherine Orsborn, Executive Director, Shoulder to Shoulder
  • Girish Shah, Board Chair, Silicon Valley Interreligious Council (SiVIC)
  • Sheryl Olitzky, Co-founder & Executive Director, Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom
  • Sharif Liwaru, Director, Speakers Bureau of Nebraska
  • Rev. Mark E. Fowler, CEO, Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding
  • Jill Perlman, Rabbi, Temple Isaiah
  • Demetries Edwards, Pastor, Twenty-third Avenue Church of God
  • Rev. Craig Arthur Dossman, Sr., PhD, Retired Leader, Wings of Love; Maranatha Ministries
  • Natalie Ringsmuth, Executive Director, Unite Cloud
  • Colin Kerr-Carpenter, Reverend, Walnut Creek United Methodist Church
  • Leadership Council, Leadership Council, United Religions Initiative – North America
  • Caleb Munro, Executive Director, Youth Celebrate Diversity